The yogurt and yogurt drinks market is one of the chiller's top performers, according to Mintel's just-published Yogurts 2006 report. The total market for yogurt and yogurt drinks has grown by more than 50% since 2001 - outperforming all other dairy sectors - and Mintel estimates that yogurt will achieve £950m in sales in 2006, while yogurt drinks will generate £330m.
Health has been one of the key drivers of the category. "Consumers are primarily seeking health benefits from the category, and this is cited by 60% of those who buy into the product," claims the Mintel report. "Unlike other healthy food markets, there is no social divide in yogurt drinks, proving that health is relevant to everyone when products are sufficiently supported.
"The yogurt category fits comfortably into the lifestyles of a broad spectrum of consumers, as both a snack and a healthy option and not just as a dessert. Unlike other desserts, yogurt does not encourage feelings of guilt and is therefore not strongly associated with indulgence."
Müller and Danone lead growth in yogurt and yogurt drinks to account for almost 50% of the market, with their brands making up the top five products in the sector. According to Müller's Short Life Dairy Products market report for 2006, its position has been strengthened by the launch of the American Classic and Healthy Balance ranges, expanding the offering from the Müller Corners brand and introducing dessert-style flavours to the Müllerlight range.
According to the Müller report, healthier, functional options have also helped to add incremental sales to the market, with Müller Vitality and Danone's Bio Activia now accounting for more than 6% of the market.

Yogurt drinks

The growth rate of yogurt drinks is so strong that they now account for a quarter of the total yogurt market, claims Mintel's report. "This has been achieved in a short period of time, even though consumer penetration is still just a third of the level of yogurt pots," it says. "Yogurt drinks offer consumers portability in a way that yogurt pots struggle to achieve. Consequently, yogurt drinks are able to tap into the snacking zeitgeist of modern Britain."
But their real success lies in the fact that functional drinks offer consumers an entirely different way to consume. The report states: "Functional yogurt drinks are taken in the same way that vitamin pills might be. Therefore, their competitive set is completely different from yogurt pots. This has also extended the base beyond that of the traditional yogurt consumers."
The yogurt drinks sector is responsible for the most growth in the total functional foods market, raising questions as to the amount of shelf space the sector is given, claims Mintel. According to Danone, yogurt drinks account for 11% of shelf space, yet deliver about 60% of category growth.

Kids' category

The children's sector of yogurt and yogurt drinks is worth about £230m and has seen a small growth of 3% year on year, according to Müller's report. Fromage frais accounts for almost half of the category, with 22% sold within the handheld sector.
The category is dominated by Yoplait and Nestlé, with a 53% and 28% share respectively. Yoplait has four of the five leading brands with Petit Filous and Wildlife fromage frais, and Frubes and Choobs in the handheld sector.
"Over the past year there has been limited new product development, with a large proportion of volume traded on deal," says the Müller report. In the drinking yogurt sector, however, Nestlé launched Munch Bunch Drinky to become the sixth biggest brand in the children's market, and Yoplait added Petit Filous Probiotic drinking yogurt.
And the growth in drinking yogurts
is only set to continue, claims Müller: "The next 12 months should continue to see the children's drinking yogurt market play an even more important role with the potential for healthy branded product innovation to increase the level of value in the market."

Stuffing spot

A new range of fresh and
pre-cooked stuffing has arrived in the UK from Irish company Mr Crumb, timed to coincide with National Organic Week (September 2-17).
Mr Crumb's first UK focus will be on its premium organic sage & onion stuffing made with sautéed onions and garden herbs blended with fresh breadcrumbs. The stuffing comes pre-cooked and ready to serve in its own tray and can be heated in three minutes.
Recent research undertaken by Mr Crumb has shown that 45% of UK consumers would regularly purchase a pre-cooked stuffing product throughout the year, and rather than using it to stuff a range of poultry, meat and vegetable products, were more than twice as likely to use it as an accompaniment.
UK business development director Jason Coyle says: "In Ireland we have succeeded in taking a declining commodity product and re-inventing it with fresh, high-quality ingredients. We have also changed its usage occasion and generated strong year-round sales across all of the Irish multiples. We are looking forward to replicating this success in the UK."
The stuffing range is already stocked in Nisa stores in the UK.

Meet the supplier

Supplier: Arla Foods
Background: Arla Foods UK Plc has a long history in the dairy industry through its founding companies Arla Foods Plc and Express Dairies Plc. Express Dairies' roots can be traced to 1864 when George Barham, the son of a dairyman, formed the Express Country Milk Supply Company in London.
Meanwhile, its Scandinavian links can be traced to Scandinavia's co-operative dairies and a farm called Stora Arla Gard in Sweden in 1881.
Arla Foods' links with the UK began at the turn of the century when Lurpak butter was introduced here. The liquid milk business was later built up from acquisitions.
Recent launches:
Apetina feta cheese; extensions to the Discover range, including Halloumi Light and Creamy Blue Cubes; four-bottle multipacks of Cravendale semi-skimmed and hint of... ; and Lurpak Spreadable unsalted.
national via whole-salers, multiples
and independents

New products

Children's probiotic yogurt drink Petits Filous PLus from Yoplait Dairy Crest is the latest brand to appear in an "infomercial-style brand power" ad as part of a £5m investment in TV advertising for the Petits Filous brand.
The educational advert, which runs throughout September, will communicate to parents the functional benefits of Petits Filous Plus, including its probiotic ingredient and role as a source of calcium.
Mattessons has added a new flavour to its smoked pork sausage range. The Hot & Spicy variety has an infusion of chilli and achieved strong repeat purchase and incremental sales following regional trials. The Mattessons smoked pork sausage range includes: original, reduced fat, garlic and new hot & spicy. Products retail from £1.14 for a 227g pack.
Kraft Foods has entered the natural cheese category with Dairylea Natural Cheddar Slices. The slices, which have a rrp of £1.59, come shingled in a resealable tray, in cases of eight. Kraft Foods channel and communications manager Sarah Petts says: "We identified an opportunity for a premium branded Cheddar that is suitable for adults and kids."

Top 5 brands

1. Müller Corner
2. Danone Actimel
3. Müller Light
4. Danone Activia
5. Müller Vitality
Source: TNS Worldpanel